A Sub-Saharan Summer of Service
Missionary Adam Drake had never met Triad Baptist Church member Suzanne Smith before this summer.
Then she visited his West African nation of Togo June 24-July 2 and he quickly saw her gift for teaching.
“She demonstrated a humility in her actions and words that is rare these days,” Drake said of the arms he saw Smith open wide for children at a Christian school. “It was really evident that it touched Suzanne’s heart and made her see the need for education in overseas Christian ministry.”
Now in her seventh year as an educator, Smith teaches third grade at The Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork — a free public lab school serving grades K-5 in Walkertown, N.C.
Her living lesson in Togo came courtesy of Triad Baptist and its Family Connect Pastor, Jason Shuler. Along with Shuler and another member, Smith traveled to Togo and experienced the ministries of the three missionaries Triad Baptist supports there: Adam Drake, Jonathan Archer, and Koffi Wodome.
The Triad team’s travels took them to the capital city of Lomé, and cities Kara and Mango and to churches, schools, hospitals, kid’s club and radio ministries supported by their money and prayers.
The experience taught Smith how God uses everyday interactions and time and caring to sow and grow seeds of faith in Jesus Christ.
“I learned that there is power in being present with people, empathizing with others, and living life alongside those you come in contact with,” Smith said. “I saw this in all three of the missionaries Triad supports throughout my trip.
“Whether it’s creating a ministry for kids right outside their home, eating lunch with a neighbor, inviting a friend to their home and allowing them to share their talent for making tea, visiting the same mechanic or restaurants, or just rolling down the car windows and spending 15 minutes to talk with someone, they make their faith real by the very intentional way they touch and share life with others.”
The trip marked Smith’s second overseas with Triad Baptist. In 2014, she interacted with children and helped renovate buildings for missionaries for Eagle’s Nest orphanage in Solala, Guatemala.
Shuler organized the Togo trip to make good on a promise to Drake’s wife, Faith, that he’d take a team there to see their work in person.
The Drakes, Archers and Wodomes are among 72 missionaries in 36 countries supported by Triad through its missions budget.
“When I heard about the details of the trip, I realized it was going to be very different from the mission trip I had previously been on and from others I’d heard about before.
“I wanted to go on this trip so that I could learn how to step and live more out of my comfort zone, learn more about the power of prayer, to be an encouragement to the missionaries, and learn more about the different ways to support missionaries.”
Along with a meal that featured cooking tips on preparing Fou Fou, a traditional dish, Smith’s favorite trip highlight was teaching Bible lessons to children at two of Wodome’s churches.
When she taught children the song, “My God is So Big” — in a lesson about God protecting King Jehoshaphat and Israel from the Moabites and Ammonites — she noticed adults learning along with them.
“As we were leaving, you could hear one of the women leaders singing the song,” Smith said. “While she was singing it, she was so excited about learning the song that she kept singing it over and over again.”
Smith said her trip to Togo reminded her of how relationship-building takes time and being present, but is worth every minute.
“I can’t think of anything better than being able to teach kids about how our God, no matter where we are in this huge world or how many people exist, is powerful, mighty, sovereign, a provider, and present in our lives,” she said.
“This experience allowed me to see the beautiful culture of Togo as well as the beauty in developing relationships with others through time,” Smith said. “One can see out of this experience the true power of being intentional with our time because it has a true impact on how the gospel is spread across the nations.”
Drake said he still feels the impact of the Triad team’s visit.
“This was the first team that we’ve had in our 10 years of ministry on the field from one of our supporting churches!” he said.
“As missionaries out here in a far-away country, we greatly need the encouragement that comes from having someone come out and just sit and chat with us. We were able to pray together, lay our heavy burdens down, and share a little bit of our lives.
“Even now, we are reminiscing on the great encouragement it was to have Suzanne and the rest of the team out here for a visit,” Drake said. “We are greatly strengthened and encouraged by the interest shown in our ministry.”